by Ken E Murray
At low tide, after sunset at Illawong Beach, Mackay, is a great time for my Grandson Matty and me, to observe the amazing Soldier Crabs …that God has designed and engineered with meticulous detail and awesome capabilities.
No one thinks of a crab as having much intelligence at all, but God has put Soldier Crabs in a league of their own.
Soldier crabs are one of zillions of extraordinary creatures that reveal God to be the awesome Designer, Engineer, Creator, Lifegiver, Lawgiver, and Sustainer. “Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, is clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:20, RSV)
Soldier crabs (Mictyris longicarpus) are a unique group of crabs that have amazing God given design features that make them different from other crabs.
Instead of flattened bodies their bodies are spherical which assists in their corkscrew burrowing into the sand.
Unlike other crabs, they can walk forward as well as sideways.
Just as well they can march forward.
Can you imagine what would have happened if the soldier crab had evolved only sideways movement like other crabs?
It would have driven their sergeant major crab crazy!
Just imagine the confusion of hundreds of crabs in army formation moving to the right while hundreds of others are moving to the left.
“Heyyy Oh Ooopps!!” cries the Sargeant Major. “We have a disaster pile up on our hands!”
They emerge from their holes in the sand at low tide and move in large groups of dozens or even thousands of individuals. They move together in the same direction creating the illusion of moving sand.
As they move they place sand into their mouths with their pincers eating the organic detritus matter contained amongst the grains leaving behind small, cleaned round pellets of sand called pseudofaece, now devoid of organic material.
So God has designed them to be a huge army of vacuum cleaners to keep the beach flats sand, filtered and clean …so it is not able to go sour and smelly.
They have some extraordinary internal design features to fit their particular niche.
Within the thorax is a chamber containing the gills and the lungs. The gills occupy the lower part of the thoracic cavity. The upper part of the cavity contains a complex set of tiny tubes, which are highly vascularised, to allow efficient exchange of the gases carbon dioxide and oxygen. These crabs obtain about 90 % of their oxygen from their lungs …but get this fact! They also absorb oxygen through their legs!!
Yes, Soldier Crabs have joints that are reddish in colour within the legs. These tiny legs have some decalcified areas in each, which allow them to absorb small amounts of oxygen that aids in their respiration process. Evolutionists, go figure!
With the onset of high tide they begin burrowing downward in a corkscrew motion into the sand. As they dig the animals create a breathing cavity around themselves which is four to five times as large as the crab itself! Can you imagine the incredible engineering and instinct, that God has designed into Soldier crabs?
They maintain the air cavity’s structure by placing sand above them like a plug. This plug prevents water from entering the cavity. The crabs burrow down to a depth of about 300mm. At high tide they may be covered by as much as 2 metres of water.
Another behaviour God has given them for protection is by group association or flocking instinct. Operating in armies of thousands causes confusion in their bird predators by providing too much choice, just like the way herd animals do in Africa. The hesitation created in the predator gives the whole group an opportunity to escape simultaneously by burrowing, and improving their chances of survival.
They can also tuck themselves into a tight ball for protection and camouflage.
Another amazing feature of their God given design is that they also have a minute hairy fringe on the back of their shell to suck up moisture.
Soldier crabs reproduce through means of copulation. The female can hold the male’s sperm inside her until she releases the eggs. At this time the saved sperm fertilizes the eggs. Females will hold the eggs under her in a sponge-like mass until they are ready to hatch.
Their burrowing into the sand increases the oxygenation within the sediments. This is known as bioturbation.
One benefit of having Soldier crabs around is that they are scavengers. They feed from the dead detritus remains of animals on the beach, that washes in on each high tide …and then they clean it up and oxygenate the sand in doing so.
How wondrous is the fine detail of the inter-connected systems of life that God has designed and created into perfect harmony to balance and sustain the environment.
Meantime …keep pumpin’!
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